Bama Hawkeye left some big shoes to fill here at OTE. One of those shoes was talking about what we want to see happen in the non-conference schedule each week: a breakdown of the games and what the B1G needs to do to get some better respectability nationally. This year I will attempt to step into those shoes.
Before we jump into the individual games let's talk about the B1G as a whole. Let's be honest, if you are a fan of a team from a conference other than the B1G, you probably don't think very highly of the B1G right now. And who can blame you?
Remember bowl season last year? The B1G sent an incredible 10 of 12 teams to bowls (thanks mostly to Indiana and Minnesota completely crapping the bed), but managed to win only 4 of those games. Two of the wins (Purdue over W. Michigan & Illinois over UCLA) weren't exactly wins to write home about, and the other two (MSU over Georgia in 3 OT's & Michigan over VaTech in OT) took some doing to accomplish.
In their bowl losses, B1G teams fell to two Big 12 teams, two SEC teams, a Pac 12 team and a Conference USA team. Translation: it's not just the mighty ESSSS EEEEE SEEEE that's doin' work on the B1G.
It's time for that ish to change.
So here's a "What I Want" for the B1G as a whole as we look at the non-conference schedule for the 2012 season:
TAKE CARE OF YO DAMN BIZNESS!!!
Seriously, don't embarrass yourselves or your conference. Take care of it. If you are playing a MAC school, bury them. FCS team coming to your stadium? Eat them alive. Team from a non-AQ conference is on your schedule? Wonderful. Destroy the head and the body will follow.
Quit SUCKING in non-conference games.
Okay, on to said games for week 1 after the jump. Settle in... we've got some work to do.
Minnesota @ UNLV (10pm CT): It's year 2 of the Jerry Kill era. The first stepping stone of rebuilding a program is getting back to winning the games that you are expected to win instead of pissing down your leg. Gophers, you are expected to win this game, so don't screw it up, but what I really want to see is for you to take care of your business with style. Win by 2 touchdowns and act like you've been there before.
#24 Boise State @ #13 Michigan State (7pm CT): During bowl season you took care of what you needed to take care of, MSU. For that, we thank you. Boise State wants to prove they belong with the big boys. Michigan State wants to prove that they are here to stay. MSU is favored by a TD. Spartans, I want to see you take that number, AND DOUBLE IT! Put that defense with the high expectations to work. I want to see you win by 14 and kick Boise out of the Top 25 discussion.
Northwestern @ Syrcacuse: Okay Northwestern. We know how badly you want to be taken seriously. We know how badly you want to show everyone how good Coach Fitz is. We also know you lost to Army during the non-con last year and
you've never haven't won a bowl game since the Rose Bowl in '49. You know that thing I said about Minnesota and building a program and winning the games your supposed to win? That goes for you to. Rage Against The Machine said it best, "What better place than here? What better time than now?" Syracuse isn't exactly Alabama, but they are a BCS conference team. I want you to start changing our opinion of your ability to hang with non-conference teams and win this game by a TD.
Ohio @ PSU: Oh PSU. Lawdamighty I don't even know what to say here. You're favored by a touchdown. So yeah, if you could just go ahead and, uh, cover that spread so we don't have to be quite so worried about you, that would be great. Mmkay? I want to see you win this game and begin the healing process.
Western Michigan @ Illinois: Illinois we want to see you bring back Ron Zook because he was such good fun. Okay, I keed, I keed. Seriously, who better to start out Tim Bechman's reign at Illinois than with a team from the conference he just came from? Pretty perfect. You're favored by 10, Illinois, and since Zooker isn't coaching you, you might actually be able to cover that. Whether you cover that spread or not, I'd just like to see you win.
Miami (OH) @ #18 OSU: Hey, did you hear that Urban Meyer is the new football coach of the Buckeyes? You didn't? Well you must not have read anything that Ted has written over the past 10 months. Anyway, OSU, the odds-makers think you are 24.5 points better than Miami (OH). I, myself, would be a little nervous putting money on that number but that's because I'm a coward. Urban Meyer wants you to be angry, so maybe you'll take care of it. At the very least, OSU, I want to see you win by two TD's... convincing enough to let us know you are still one of the top programs in the conference.
Iowa vs. Northern Illinois (Soldiers Field): In theory this game is played on a neutral field, but Hawkeye fans driving to the game from Iowa City are going to have to drive right through Northern Illinois territory to get to Soldier's Field. There isn't a lot of noise coming out of Iowa City this year (outside of AIRBHG), but you've won your last 11 opening weekend games, Hawkeyes, so I'm expecting you to continue that streak. I'm nervous that this game is going to be tougher than it should be, but I'm of the belief a B1G team should never lose to a MAC team. I want to see you cover the 10 point spread and do your part to make sure the B1G owns the MAC.
Eastern Kentucky @ Purdue: Ah yes, that's the kind of cupcake scheduling we're used to seeing in the B1G. I want to see you win by three TD's, Purdue. Don't make me say it again.
Southern Miss @ #17 Nebraska: Welcome to year 2 in the B1G, Nebraska. Your transition into our humble club was seamless. Don't blow it by losing a gimme at home. I don't think you will, and I want to see you prove me right. You're favored by 20 and I want to see you take care of that number in the first half.
Northern Iowa @ #12 Wisconsin: Hey Bucky, Vegas won't touch this game with a 10' pole. They aren't setting a point spread because you should win by at least 35. Yeah, that sounds about right. I want to see you win by at least 35.
Indiana State @ Indiana: Please Indiana, make this happen. Fo' realzies, you don't have many chances for W's this season, but this is definitely one of them. I want to see you make us all feel bad for referring to this as a cripple fight and find a way to dominate this game... or at least win by a field goal.
#8 Michigan vs. #2 Alabama (Texas Stadium): I want you to win this game, Michigan. I don't care how you do it, and I don't care how much you win by. Just win. The B1G needs you, Michigan. All is right with the world when you are relevant on a national level. Make it happen. Show the SEC that we have speed and size in the B1G too. Win this game, Michigan. Win. This. Game.
What I want: I want 12-0. I want the B1G to crush all of the cupcakes and find a way to win both of the games against ranked opponents. I want the conference to leave no doubt that we are on the rise.
What I expect: I expect 10-2. I expect Michigan to struggle because I'm afraid Alabama is that good, and I expect that someone will find a way to get upset in one of the ten games against un-ranked teams.